Weight training may be beneficial for people living with psoriatic arthritis. A person can seek help from a healthcare professional or a personal trainer with relevant experience to create a suitable exercise plan.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic condition that affects the joints and the areas where ligaments and tendons connect to bones. People with PsA, which has a link with psoriasis, may experience symptoms such as joint inflammation and pain.

Weight training is a type of resistance exercise that people can use to build muscle mass and increase strength. Weight or resistance training can form a part of an overall healthy lifestyle for people living with PsA. It may also help improve some symptoms associated with PsA, such as pain.

Keep reading to learn about how weight training affects a person living with PsA.

Yes. A person with PsA should talk with a doctor before beginning any exercise routine, including weightlifting. However, the Arthritis Foundation states that regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep the joints healthy.

Building muscle through exercise can help support and protect the joints. It can also improve balance and flexibility.

A small study from 2017 indicated that participation in a 12-week program of resistance training helped improve functional capacity, reduce disease activity, and increase quality of life for people with psoriatic arthritis.

Other benefits of exercise for people with PsA include:

  • maintaining a moderate body weight
  • increasing range of motion and flexibility
  • reducing pain and stiffness
  • reducing the likelihood of PsA flares
  • improving sleep
  • reducing fatigue
  • increasing overall well-being

Anyone interested in beginning a weight training program should first consult a physical therapist or certified personal trainer with experience related to psoriatic arthritis. These professionals can help a person develop a suitable exercise plan.

A person can try many different types of weighted exercises. Some exercises require no equipment at all and use only the weight of the body, whereas others use free weights or exercise machines. The variety of options allows a person to find what works best for them.

Bodyweight exercise

Bodyweight exercises strengthen the body using the person’s own weight as resistance. These exercises require little or no equipment. As a result, a person can do these exercises at home with limited space and adapt them to suit any personal limitations. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) also notes that bodyweight exercises are both efficient and effective.

Examples of bodyweight exercises include:

  • Planks: Lie on a yoga mat face down in a straight line with the hands under the shoulders and the toes on the floor. Then, press up to straight arms, keeping the toes and palms on the floor. Hold the position, taking care to keep the core tight and the back flat.
  • Squats: Stand with the feet hip-width apart and the toes facing forward. Then, bend the knees as though preparing to sit in a chair before standing up straight again.
  • Pushups: Start in a plank pose and bend the elbows to lower the body toward the floor before straightening the elbows and pushing back to the plank pose. Beginners can keep their knees on the floor to make the exercise easier.
  • Glute bridges: Lie flat on the back with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor. Engage the core and then squeeze the glutes to lift the hips off the floor. The upper back and shoulders should remain on the floor. Hold the position and then lower the hips to return to the original position.

As a person gets stronger, they can modify any of these exercises to make them harder by adding free weights or resistance bands.

Free weights

Strength training with free weights can be another option for people wishing to get a resistance workout at home. People with PsA may find this especially beneficial if the condition affects the joints in their hands or feet. In these cases, a person can wear wrist or ankle weights to work out.

According to the ACE, free weights have other advantages, including:

  • increased core engagement
  • more versatility than weight machines
  • less expensive than weight machines
  • more space-efficient

Exercise machines

A person can find exercise machines at most commercial gyms, or they can consider purchasing some for at-home use.

Although they tend to be bulky and more expensive than other weight training options available, machines offer some advantages. These include:

  • easier for a person to maintain form
  • focus on a specific muscle group
  • time-efficient
  • focus muscle development on the contraction
  • help control the path of movement

In most cases, weightlifting — or strength training in general — can have a positive effect on arthritic joints. The increased strength in the muscles can help improve how they support the joints. However, as with any exercise, there is the possibility of injury or overworking the body.

For this reason, it is important to keep safety in mind when lifting weights. Properly warming up, using the correct form, and working within the body’s limits can help people avoid injury. A person can work with an experienced professional, such as a physical therapist or licensed personal trainer, to ensure that they establish safe practices during weightlifting.

Weight training can help a person living with PsA find symptom relief. It can also improve a person’s overall health, help them maintain a moderate weight, and alleviate pain directly.

A person should talk with a doctor before starting any new routine. Working with a personal trainer or physical therapist can also help a person safely develop and maintain a weight training routine.